World Series 2011: 6 Reasons St. Louis Cardinals Will Take Game 6
As if we haven’t seen just about everything so far, Game 6 of the 2011 World Series was postponed due to inclement weather and will be played tonight at Busch Stadium.
The Fall Classic usually brings plenty of drama, and this year is no different.
The St. Louis Cardinals look to capture their 11th World Series title and first since 2006. The Texas Rangers, on the other hand, look to squash the demons of last year’s failed attempts at bringing home their first-ever Commissioner’s Trophy.
Both teams are managed by two of the best in the business, and because of the weather delay, Ron Washington and Tony La Russa face drastic decisions heading into Game 6.
Will the Rangers see more heroics from Mike Napoli, or will the Cardinals utilize the day of rest and take this series to a Game 7?
Let’s take a look at six reasons why the St. Louis Cardinals will win Game 6.
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After the fiasco that was “Bullpen-Gate” in Game 5, Tony La Russa will look to sharpen up and use his relief pitchers as intelligently as possible.
Even if they had played on Wednesday as scheduled, La Russa stated his bullpen was ready to go. But with an extra day of rest, pitchers will be fresh when the manager calls on them (pending crowd noise).
Octavio Dotel and Mitchell Boggs have pitched beyond expectations all series, and the same goes for Jason Motte. The St. Louis offense is far too inconsistent and doesn’t reward the pitching staff for its gallant efforts.
That being said, La Russa and his staff can manage pitchers as well as anyone, and I see them regrouping for Game 6 and playing a big part in extending this series.
2. Jaime Garcia
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The 25-year-old Garcia has been terrific for the Cardinals all year, and the team will feel confident knowing the Mexican-born pitcher will be on the bump for Game 6.
After coming out on the losing end of a Game 2 gem, Garcia will look to bounce back and replicate the pitching exploits of his last start. He held the stout Rangers offense to just three hits in seven innings of work, giving up no runs and striking out seven.
Garcia’s Game 6 opponent will be Colby Lewis, whom he faced the first time around in Game 2. Garcia has the stuff needed to go deep into a game, and after having the best run support in the National League all regular season (5.92), the Cardinals offense must once again hold up their end of the bargain.
Game 6 should be another epic pitching duel, but I envision Garcia getting the best of Lewis this time, adding more drama going into a Game 7.
3. Albert Pujols
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Having arguably the greatest right-handed hitter in the game, the Cardinals are naturally a better team knowing who they have playing first base.
Albert Pujols is an impressive specimen who demands countless hours of preparation in order to slow him down. The Rangers have done a decent job keeping the nine-time All-Star at bay, but it is only a matter of time (see Game 3) before Prince Albert explodes.
Still, Pujols is having another outstanding postseason, homering five times and collecting 16 RBIs heading into Game 6. The St. Louis offense leans heavily on the bat of Pujols, and with the Cardinals facing elimination this is the perfect time for Albert to step up.
While he may not recreate his magic night of Game 3, I expect him to once again solidify his clutch nature and lead his team to a Game 7.
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Health plays a gigantic role during a postseason run, and amid speculation the St. Louis Cardinals go into Game 6 dispelling any injury rumors.
Matt Holliday, a big bat that has gone silent during the World Series, is shaking off a hurt hand and looks to be stringing together some good plate appearances. While his batting average against the Rangers is pretty bad (.167), he has drawn walks and created situations for his teammates behind him in the lineup.
La Russa has not lost confidence in his left fielder and strongly believes he could be the “hero” in Game 6.
In fact, the Rangers have bigger injury concerns, with prized asset Josh Hamilton not recovering fully from a groin strain.
The cooler weather of St. Louis will not help Hamilton’s recovery, and if the Ranger’s left fielder suffers due to this, I expect the Cardinals to pounce on the opportunity to take the series to Friday.
5. Home-Field Advantage
Anybody that has played at the highest level of sports knows just how important it is to play in front of the home crowd.
The first two games of the World Series were played at Busch Stadium, with the Cardinals taking Game 1 and narrowly losing Game 2. With Game 6 and 7 both being in St. Louis, I imagine La Russa and his team will take full advantage.
Playing at home gives the Cardinals comfort and familiarity, both extremely important components to the players, especially the veterans. Plus, there is added incentive when you have the prospect of lifting the World Series in front of your own fans.
If the sellout crowd is rockin’ and behind the Cardinals, as they are expected to be, St. Louis will have an edge and can prolong the series to a Game 7.
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Experience plays a huge factor in all athletics, and when it comes to this concept the Cardinals and Rangers are on the opposite sides of the spectrum.
La Russa is a knowledgeable manager who is a mainstay in the playoffs. With two World Series titles to his name alone, that total doubles the amount of titles the Rangers have appeared in as an organization.
Pujols, Yadier Molina and Chris Carpenter were all around in 2006 and understand the mental and physical demands needed to win a championship. Plus, someone like Lance Berkman provides an added motivation to winning, after he suffered defeat with the Houston Astros in the 2005 Fall Classic.
The Rangers still have last year’s failures driving them, but their experiences pale in comparison to those of the Cardinals, and St. Louis will benefit from this in Game 6.